back to article Got a 4King big TV? Ready to stream lots of awesome video? Yeah, about that…

While electronics giants are showing off their internet-connected 4K TVs, most people still do not have the web bandwidth to stream stuff in ultra high-def. That's the conclusion reached by the latest quarterly report [PDF] from internet backbone-manipulation outfit Akamai, which shows that only about 12 per cent of netizens …

  1. P. Lee

    So broadcast is the way to go for 4k media?

    Or do we need a new disk-based storage media format?

    I for one welcome our channel-count-reducing overlords.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Badvok

        Re: So broadcast is the way to go for 4k media?

        "I won't be buying a 4K set until it's under 500 quid and I can watch BBC/ITV/C4 on it for free. I'm prepared to wait......."

        Wait for what? They're in the shops now.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: So broadcast is the way to go for 4k media?

        I reckon 'not bothering' is more the way to go. I fail to see in what way 1080p is not sufficient, given that the vast majority of humans have imperfect eyesight anyway, and given that most of the stuff broadcast is utter tripe and would be better off in lower resolution, and on mute.

        This is just another case of 'status symbol' chasing. Given that the only 'real' use for this that I can think of is watching a film on a big screen in higher resolution, why not just go and watch it at the cinema instead, and save yourself the hundreds of pounds? It's not like that will cost significantly more than streaming the thing, and you don't have to turn your wall into a 1984-style viewscreen.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: So broadcast is the way to go for 4k media?

          For comparison, for the downvoter(s);

          I am one of the lucky few who has near-perfect vision. I work with a monitor that has 1080p resolution and fills most of my field of vision when looking at it. I can just about make out an individual pixel if I squint. In what way is a higher resolution really necessary, other than being a status symbol?

          1. Badvok

            @Loyal Commenter

            "I work with a monitor that has 1080p resolution and fills most of my field of vision when looking at it."

            You WHAAAAT? That screen must be either massive or your nose must be touching it, either way you must have really poor vision to only be able to make out a pixel if you squint. I think a trip to the opticians is in order for you (and get them to check you for tunnel vision first).

            1. Badvok

              Re: @Loyal Commenter

              Oooh, looks like you've got a friend who also didn't pick up on the 'field of vision' bit. Good job I didn't just consider horizontal field of vision, that would make the screen infinitely large and hence each pixel would be infinitely large and even harder not to notice.

            2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: @Loyal Commenter

              You WHAAAAT? That screen must be either massive or your nose must be touching it, either way you must have really poor vision to only be able to make out a pixel if you squint. I think a trip to the opticians is in order for you (and get them to check you for tunnel vision first).

              OK, let me clarify for those who don't know how human eyes work.

              The full field of vision subtends about 130 degrees horizontally. However, the only part where you can see anything in any amount of detail is the central 10 - 15 degrees, and you can only see detail in the central 2 degrees, which is where the image falls on the fovea. Everything else is essentially peripheral vision, where you only see basic shapes, colours and movement. This is why your eyeballs can move around to point at things, in order to see them.

              FYI, I work with a 20" monitor, located around 18 inches in front of me. This fills my functional field of vision. Obviously, I can still see things in my peripheral vision, but if these were on a screen, I wouldn't be able to tell whether they were in high definition, or a single coloured pixel. This is quite normal.

              At this distance, I can just make out if a dark spot on a white background is one pixel, or two; note that I am talking about visual acuity here, not whether I can see the pixel or not. I am one of the lucky 5% or so of people who don't need glasses, and can quite happily read notices on the wall at the other end of the room that others who wear glasses cannot. I think I'll put off that trip to the opticians for a little while yet thank you.

              Anyway, my point stands that there is little point in an ultra-HD television. At a distance where the whole image comfortably falls into your field of vision (several metres, depending on the size of your set), you won't be able to make out the pixel-level of detail, particularly since the image will be constantly moving and changing. IMHO, they are nothing more than status symbols, like personalised registration plates, or monogrammed golf clubs. If you have the cash spare to buy one, consider doing something philanthropic with it instead.

              1. Badvok

                Re: @Loyal Commenter

                "The full field of vision subtends about 130 degrees horizontally"

                Nope, that's more like the vertical field of vision, horizontally (unless you have tunnel vision) it is > 180 degrees.

                "This fills my functional field of vision"

                Well maybe that's what you should have said before, but I don't generally keep my eyes static (who does?) so my functional field of vision = my full field of vision.

      3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: So broadcast is the way to go for 4k media?

        There's plenty of bandwidth available in the USA because channels were sized for MPEG2 + AC-3 codecs with tons of error correction. All we need to do is start the 15 year process to free ourselves from the old codecs.

  2. pierce

    157 channels and nothing on.

    the vast majority of video is all still slime oozing out of the tv set.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


      you have been watching far too much 'Babestation' then?

      honest Guv, It was for research purposes only.

  3. Bassey

    Chicken and Egg?

    I'm just getting to the point where a 16MB (actually getting about 11MB) ADSL line isn't quite enough for our family so we'll probably upgrade this year. The only real option being to go up to 40MB. But I would consider us atypically heavy users. For most, 16MB is plenty so they don't see the need to spend more on a faster connection. There needs to be stuff out there that justifies the outlay but companies (understandably) don't want to put the content out there when people don't have the ability to access it.

    1. doofus

      Re: Chicken and Egg?

      I am presuming you mean 16Mb and upgrading to 40Mb, otherwise at 16 MB (128Mb) you would have more than enough for 4K streaming.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having a decent internet connection is one thing

    But is the rest of the network up to lots of people streaming FourK?

  5. DominicSayers

    "Web bandwidth" - are we streaming over HTTP now? No wonder it doesn't work.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100+ MB apparently, but can't even stream low quality YouTube half the time.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Terrible writing

    On the one hand we have:

    Over the short term, Akamai found that 4K readiness has actually decreased by 2.8 per cent worldwide quarter-to-quarter.

    And on the other:

    Akamai has noted that over the last year 4K readiness has gone up by 32 per cent

    Of course, both sentences include the nonsensical term "4K readiness".

    The rest of the "article" reads like the hastily scribbled notes from a press conference.

    Will the site makeover include the chance to avoid articles from those who can't write?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Terrible writing

      Maybe it's not terrible writing, more that we haven't made it clear enough and you've misread it. I've tweaked the article to make everything crystal clear.

      4K readiness is a short way of saying you've got enough bandwidth to stream 4K video comfortably: 15Mbps+

      The number of people with 15Mbps+ bw worldwide decreased 2.8% *quarter to quarter* ie: comparing Oct-Dec with Jul-Sept.

      The number of people with 15Mbps+ bw worldwide increased 32% *year to year* ie: comparing 2014 to 2013.


      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Terrible writing

        @diodesign - thanks very much for tweaking the article (and also dropping me a note by e-mail).

        I stand by what I initially said – "4K readiness" is nonsense – which is reflected in your changes.

        As the two don't go hand-in-hand – screen resolution and bandwidth – there will always be a gap. Traditionally resolution has been the driver for bandwidth. Upscaling if done well, and possibly even transcoding to HEVC, might be worth it for some.

        I guess we'll know that 4K is gaining acceptance when we start seeing 4K rips in large numbers.

  8. Tony Paulazzo

    4K stuff between 10 and 16Mbps using HEVC compression.

    Is it still 4K if it's had the crap compressed out of it? I mean, HEVC looks exciting and everything for streaming video over the internet to your phone / tablet, but compressed Sky HD barely looks any better than old style Standard uncompressed video (only slight exaggeration), eg. DVD.

    1. WibbleMe

      Agreed downloading Sky Movies the frame rate is a little odd, my 65 year old dad hates it refuses to watch them.

  9. Jay 2

    The usual (video-related) quote: Dross in 4K is still dross

    Meanwhile, I assume 4K video is a bit on the large size when it comes to data. That's going to be fun getting it to the masses...

  10. silent_count

    Imagine a website where you can download videos at a variety of resolutions. You'd then have a choice of downloading a high resolution video ahead of time if your bandwidth isn't high enough to watch while it's downloading. Or the other option would be to download a lower resolution video. And in either case you could then transfer the downloaded video to whichever device you care to watch it on.

    Now imagine if the self-described 'creative' industry could create a legal way to do what I've descrbed. It turns out they're not that creative after all.

    1. Yugguy

      My SkyHD box will autodownload the latest Sky Movies releases during the night so they can be watched immediately.

      It also gives the option when manually choosing a film to download in hd or sd.

  11. akeane

    What's all the fuss about?

    With a 56k modem it would only take a second or two to download 4k...

  12. Boothy Silver badge

    Wish I had the option of a faster Internet!

    I'd love to get fibre, cabinet or home, but don't have the option :-/

    I live on a nice new estate of about 80 houses, where BT in their wisdom, decided not to install a new type cabinet in the middle of the estate for the new houses, but instead wired the houses to the cabinets on nearby side streets, which they have yet to upgrade, and won't provide any clue as to when an upgrade might happen!

    Come on BT, extract finger and get a move on!

  13. Yugguy

    I don't need 4k

    Thanks, but, no thanks.

    When my newish HD Samsung finally dies, if 4K is then the standard broadcast format, I guess I'll get one.

    But given that BBC1 can't even do local frigging news in even HD yet excuse me if don't get excited.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: I don't need 4k

      But given that BBC1 can't even do local frigging news in even HD yet excuse me if don't get excited.

      That is so stupid. Especially showing that "This is not yet available in HD in your area" screen...surely they could just show the SD version (letterbox it inside the notice if they must) so that one wouldn't need to change change to another channel (or more to the point suffer the notice until the local bit is over).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't need 4k

      You will not have a choice!!! Only 4k will be available within 5 years.

      it is expensive fof manufacturers to operate production lines. Therefore they will move to making ONLY 4K resolution screens quite quickly.

      Look around the shops and you most don't offer less than 1080p at 32" or higher now.

      Its even rafe to find sub_HD screens at smaller sizes now.

      The same will happen for 4K.

      although, do note, that having cracked 4K the manufacturers are already working on 8K as their next-generation revenue maker.

  14. Barry Rueger

    Same old story

    I recall the days when people were adamant that sigs should be no more than three lines long because there wasn't enough capacity to "waste" it on unneeded characters.

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Same old story

      Some sigs I have seen bring out the acronym - TLDR.

  15. sqlartist

    Just got a 4K....

    I have to say that what I have seen I have been blown away with the TV I got at Christmas. I was sort of lucky to get the Bang & Olufsen Avant 55 - 4k TV - and surround setup. It hasn't got the HDEC chip but other than that its jaw-dropping. The first thing I watched was the ULTRA HD 4k transformers youtube trailer and everyone that has seen it was very impressed. I haven't seen anything so good in a long time and have always had the home cinema bug. I brought 8000 DVD and about 1000 blu-rays. I have started to rewatch the blue-rays as the TV does a very good job of upscaling the 1080P.

    I am pissed at the lack of 4k content as watching some GoPro videos or rain drops over a wonderful sunset does tend to be boring. Christmas morning was a 4k fireplace :)

    The TV (it also moves every time it turns off) makes me smile every single time I turn it on or off and a piece of technology that does that before I have even started to watch anything is a good purchase.

    1. icarusi

      Re: Just got a 4K....

      Also got a 65" 4K Sony X85B in the Boxing Day sales at a very good price. I've been intending to get a 4K camera 'then' the TV but the price was too good and I don't think 4K TVs with H265 capable tuners (which I'd prefer) are ready yet.

      I've been collecting 4K footage from Youtube, but noticed a lot of 1080p broadcast content is now shot in 4K. The X85B upscaler really works on this content, providing there's not more than moderate movement in the frame, otherwise it's the usual mush at the broadcast bandwidth. It's not full 4K but very comparable with 3K, much like when 1080p footage was first broadcast over SD TV. Definitely now worth getting for viewing this 4K over 2K broadcast content.

      I wouldn't advise less than 65" unless you want to sit close all the time to see the difference. Remember 65" 4K is equivalent to 4x32" 2K TVs so you need to be sitting at the same distance as you would a 32" 2K TV to see the same amount of detail.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Just got a 4K....

        I realise I'm probably in a minority on here for saying this, but I can't think of anything worse than having my living room dominated by a giant TV. And I've got a big lounge. The 40inch we have now is plenty big enough thanks.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    15 Mbps is not enough

    Directv fits 6 MPEG4 HD channels in a transponder that provides 39.6 Mbps using statistical multiplexing. So the average bandwidth is 6.5 Mbps, with the better quality channels getting around 10 Mbps.

    That's for 720p (60 fps) and 1080i (30 fps) Since 4K has 9x the pixels of 720p and 4x the pixels of 1080i. So with HEVC reportedly getting 30-50% better compression than MPEG4 (we'll use 50% since the math is easier) you're looking at 45 Mbps for 4Kp60 and 20 Mbps for 4Kp24.

    That's just for "good quality" HD as far as Directv is concerned, which is not bad compared to the other cable/satellite providers but far from what you get with a Blu Ray. Isn't the whole point of 4K to have better quality than HD, not just more pixels but the same compression artifacting? So we really need more than those figures. 4K Blu Ray will support in excess of 100 Mbps for 4Kp24...what does that tell you?

    Anyone tells you you're going to get 4K with only 15 Mbps, don't get excited. A current (HD) Blu Ray will deliver far better quality than that bit starved 4K stream will.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: 15 Mbps is not enough

      HEVC is more efficient than H264, which is how they can fit 4K into a 16K stream. If they were still using H264 then yes, it would have been crap at that bit rate.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: 15 Mbps is not enough

      4K TVs are a gimmick so 15 Mbps should be plenty. With racks of CPUs crunching at it, the video can be compressed using proprietary intelligence that your average freeware on a desktop can't do. This is already being done to cram more channels into a single OTA stream without the P-frame distortion and I-frame flicker you'd expect of such a huge bandwidth deficit. You also have to take into account that smaller pixels in a 4K TV allows for much larger defects to go unnoticed. The MPEG group has gotten quite good at hiding losses in AAC and H.264 so I expect that H.265 will be able to convincingly simulate details without having to faithfully encode them.

  17. Rick Brasche

    and don't forget the data caps

    even with a faster pipe, you're still only good for 6 shows before your friendly neighborhood ISP says you've passed the data cap and are going to be throttled down to dial-up speeds or charged the equivalent of $5 a movie for "using more than your fair share, Komrade!"

    Everyone talked up streaming, then took away our unlimited services. No service, not even a kumbaya world where somehow Google does not act like every corporate entity in human history and change its stripes once in control, offers large enough data plans at home to support current state of the art 4K or anything "next gen".

  18. fearnothing

    What happened to the 60fps video that Peter Jackson was espousing? It was a little disorienting at first but after that I really thought it was worth my money.

  19. Hoe


    I brought a 4k monitor this week, heard Netflix does 4k so signed up to a free month (glad it was free) as only after do they tell you it's only a small list of supported TV's where 4k is an option, PC users can't watch in 4k.


    1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge


      They have piss-poor choice anyway, unless you just like blockbusters.

  20. Squeezer

    What data caps?

    I currently average something over 100GB/month (Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra), test just now gave 62Mb/s download and 18Mb/s upload, and there is no monthly cap (other people average >500GB/month with no problems). £22.50/month but you get what you pay for...

    1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

      Re: What data caps?

      Lucky old you. I'd happily pay for that, but here in 'Superfast Cornwall' I have 2 Mbps and am told that it will NEVER be upgraded.

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